(conservation + enhancement) of habitats, species and landscapes
Code of Practice
routes should seek to avoid legally protected areas and species including under
the European Union’s Habitats Directive and Birds Directive, and those
protected by international agreements including the Convention on Biological
Diversity, the Bern, Ramsar and World Heritage Conventions.
the planning, design and implementation of transport schemes there is a need to
promote an awareness and implement legislation relating to protected landscapes,
habitats and species.
of the wider countryside should include developing opportunities for enhancement
of landscapes and habitats, and the establishment of links with the Pan-European
and landscapes receive varying degrees of protection at a European and local
level. Protected sites and species may be adversely affected by transport
schemes and therefore are of particular relevance during the planning and
The alignment of a
proposed transport route is a crucial consideration in the assessment of the
magnitude and significance of the effects particularly in environmentally
sensitive locations. In these areas such routes should be screened for the need
for an EIA.
Directive and the Birds Directive
Within the European
Union, the Habitats Directive (92/43/ECC) and the Birds Directive (79/409/EEC)
establish a network of protected areas (Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and
Special Areas of Conservation (SACs)) together forming the Natura 2000 series.
This series aims to maintain and restore those listed habitats and species at a
favourable conservation status.
Under the Habitats
Directive appropriate action must be taken by Member States to avoid the
significant deterioration of, or disturbance to the designated habitats and
States shall take appropriate steps to avoid, in special areas of conservation,
the deterioration of natural habitats and the habitats of species as well as
disturbance of the species for which the areas have been designated, in so far
as such disturbance could be significant in relation to the objectives of this
6 (2) 92/43/ECC April 2000).
Member states are encouraged to
establish corridors and other landscape features between the protected areas.
This could include land associated with transport schemes.
States shall endeavour, where they consider it necessary, in their land-use
planning and development policies and, in particular, with a view to improving
the ecological coherence of the Natura 2000 network, to encourage the management
of features of the landscape which are of major importance for wild fauna and
flora. Such features are those which, by virtue of their linear and continuous
To preserve listed
habitats from developments likely to alter their ecological balance, Article 6
(3) and (4) of the Habitats Directive provides for an appropriate assessment:
plan or project not directly connected with or necessary to the management of
the site but likely to have a significant effect thereon, either individually or
in combination with other plans or projects..."
This requirement is
irrespective of the EIA Directive and is much more stringent. If the assessment
predicts a negative effect the development may go ahead only if there are no
alternatives, or if there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest,
including those of an economic or social nature. In such cases the state
concerned must still reduce the impact of the project and adopt compensatory
In addition to
sites, the Habitats Directive protects certain priority species listed in Annex
IVa. The list is subject to review. Listed animal species living in the wild
must be protected from deliberate capture or killing, disturbance, destruction
or taking of eggs and the deterioration or destruction of breeding sites or
resting places (Article 12 and 13 of 92/43/EEC). Listed plants growing in the
wild must be protected from deliberate picking, collecting, cutting or uprooting
or selling or exchanging. These conditions may be waived to enable a development
to proceed if there is no satisfactory alternative and the development will not
be detrimental to the maintenance of the listed population at a favourable
conservation status in their natural range. They may be waived also if the
development is required:
imperative reasons of overriding public interest, including those of a social or
economic nature and beneficial consequences of primary importance for the
The application of
Articles 12 and 13 in this section of the Directive is strict, often with
significant effects for pending development, for example the presence of a
protected species can stop construction works with consequential delay to the
programme and with associated additional costs to the developer. A survey
immediately prior to tendering or construction should help alleviate such
consequences and is especially important when there has been a significant time
lapse between the completion of the EIA and the start of construction works. In
this intervening period, which for transport schemes can sometimes amount to
around ten years, significant changes can occur in the landscape particularly as
a response to other development pressures. For similar external reasons the
protected status of species can change.